Queensland overcame New South Wales 16-10 in Sydney to secure a one-game lead in the best-of-three State of Origin series.
Both teams scored a try in the opening half but Valentine Holmes' conversion handed Queensland a lead at the break.
The visitors went further in front after the interval with tries from Daly Cherry-Evans and Holmes.
Cameron Murray pulled one back for the hosts but Queensland were able to hang on.
"That was the response that we wanted and any player who played last year, we wanted the chance to come back and show that the jersey means something to us, and it was a good start," said Queensland skipper Cherry-Evans.
"We have spoken about doing what it takes and when you were going to be there for each other and it will give us more confidence. Great defence."
Victory will be a big boost for the Maroons, who lost the shield after two heavy defeats in the last series, which cost coach Paul Green his job.
His rookie successor Billy Slater, widely acknowledged as one of the country's greatest ever players, was taking charge of the side for the first time.
New South Wales will look to bounce back in the second game on 26 June in Perth as they target a fourth series win in five years under coach Brad Fittler.
"We lost it in the period before half-time and after half-time they came out flying and we did not respond," said veteran NSW star Nathan Cleary.